Hampshire League

The Hampshire League was a highly popular football league in Hampshire, England. During its heyday its constitution consisted of four divisions with over 60 clubs taking part - this included a vast number of semi-professional teams and Reserve/’A’ sides of the areas professional clubs with many famous players playing in its matches over the years, often in front of large crowds.

The league ran for 108 years, from 1896 until 2004 - after which two competitions have since spawned from it; the Hampshire League 2004 (an unofficial continuation) and the Hampshire Premier Football League. The former dissolved in 2013 and was absorbed by the latter, which now operates with two divisions, with the top flight gaining place on the revised FA Pyramid system.

Hampshire League
Hampshire League logo
Founded1896-2004
CountryEngland
Feeder toWessex League
Relegation toSouthampton League
Portsmouth League
Bournemouth League
Isle of Wight League
North Hants League
Aldershot League
Domestic cup(s)FA Cup
FA Vase
Hampshire Senior Cup
Hampshire Intermediate Cup
Local Divisional FA Senior Cups

History

It all goes way back to Victorian times; an era which saw football established as a popular recreational activity with a number of clubs (some of which still exist today) being formed. In these days fixture lists consisted of just cup games and friendlies, with frequent gaps in-between and it was soon becoming obvious that a more organised schedule was required, so in 1896 it was decided to form the Hampshire League. The inaugural campaign saw eight teams taking part with the first ever fixture being played on Saturday 5th September 1896 between Eastleigh Athletic and Freemantle, who won a thrilling match 5-4 with a player called Inglefield scoring the first ever goal! The first ever league champions were Cowes.

Administered by the Hampshire Football Association (founded in 1887), the fledgling competition quickly took off, remaining with just a single division until 1903 when there were sufficient numbers to expand, but with transport limited it was then split into regional sections with an end of season play off to decide the champions, before a main County Division was introduced. Despite the unwelcome interruptions of two horrendous World Wars (1914–19 and 1939–45) the competition continued to grow and prosper once peace had been restored, adopting the simple and best known three-tier format in 1929 with straight forward promotion/relegation between the divisions. Large three figure attendances were common place at top-flight games, even more so at the much-loved grounds of the participating Island clubs where many legendary encounters took place.

An increase in numbers saw Division 3 twice split into two regional East/West sections for a spell from 1947–56 and again from 1968-71 after which there were enough teams to form a Fourth Division respectively before a decline in numbers saw the bottom tier disbanded in 1980. The league also briefly ran a North Hants Division from 1954–56 and for a spell during the mid-1970s also operated a Sunday competition. Although there was no official pyramid in these days, the league champions were eligible to apply for promotion to either the Southern or Western League whilst at the other end the bottom two sides would have to apply for re-election. If another team from the same local association (Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Isle of Wight, North Hants or Aldershot) successfully applied for membership then they would exchange places.

During its prime the Hampshire League had the likes of Andover, Bashley, Basingstoke Town, Blackfield & Langley, Eastleigh (formerly Swaythling Athletic), Fareham Town, Fleet Town, Gosport Borough, Havant Town, Moneyfields, New Milton, Newport, Poole Town, Salisbury, AFC Totton, Winchester City and Waterlooville as long standing members before all progressed on to the semi-professional Southern League. The Reserve and ‘A’ sides of Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Reading and Aldershot also took part for many years. The league has also been well represented in both national and regional cup competitions. Several clubs enjoyed good runs in the FA Cup; in 1920 Thornycrofts Woolston (latterly Vospers) memorably held Burnley to a draw. Newport reached the 1st Round proper 5 times during the 1950s whilst Ryde Sports in 1936, Waterlooville in 1968 and Alton Town in 1972 also reached the same stage. Several clubs also enjoyed fine runs in the FA Amateur Cup, most notably in 1910 when RMLI Gosport beat South Bank 2–1 in the Final and also in 1930 when the legendary Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic reached the final – only to lose 1–5 to Ilford in front of over 20,000 at West Ham United’s Upton Park ground. This competition was superseded by the FA Trophy and Vase and in the latter Havant Town notably reached the Quarter Finals in 1986. Locally, Hampshire League clubs prospered in the county Senior Cup, two big shocks came in the late Seventies when both Pirelli General and Romsey Town surprisingly defeated Isthmian League big guns Farnborough Town to clinch the trophy. The county Intermediate, Russell Cotes and local divisional cups were also frequently won by a Hampshire League team.

The 1980s saw more demand being placed on facilities rather than playing ability and in an effort to raise standards and keep in line with the FA’s national non-league requirements, in 1986 the top clubs broke away to form the Wessex League. Along with their Dorset and Wiltshire counterparts, the Hampshire League (which now consisted of 2 main Divisions and a separate Combination section for Reserve sides) became a feeder to the Wessex in the new look pyramid system. With the power of hindsight it would have been better to keep the old format with the Reserve teams in at their respective levels as in 1991 most would leave en-block to join the Wessex League’s newly established version, but by recruiting some new member clubs, the Hampshire League was able to re-introduce Division 3 and also launch its own cup competition. By now the League was being administered by a Committee of volunteers rather than the county FA and in 1997 the Combination section was re-introduced with its own cup competition. The section was expanded to two divisions in 2000.

With the Wessex League looking to form a second division, the Committee were anxious to avoid a repeat of 1986, so the top-flight was renamed the Premier Division in 1999 for which only clubs with the required facilities were allowed entry. Again, with the power of hindsight, it would have been best to simply allow these clubs to leave en masse and continue with a smaller two division competition. Sadly in 2004, after much debate, the inevitable happened when it was controversially agreed to amalgamate with the Wessex set-up and tragically the Hampshire League was consequently wound down and closed, despite it being made clear that clubs unable to obtain the required facilities within 3 years would be ejected. Many agreed that this was a disgraceful and disrespectful way to end a long-running and much-loved competition which had provided so many fine memories for generations. Vosper Thornycroft (now Sholing) were the last ever league champions.

However, some clubs who declined to join the expanded three-tier Wessex set-up or return to local parks football promptly formed the Hampshire League 2004 – technically an unofficial continuation of the original competition. As expected, in 2007 the Wessex League axed its third division – but rather than join the existing set-up, those clubs then formed the Hampshire Premier League, which with slightly stricter ground requirements has obtained “Step 7” status on the modern FA pyramid system. The two competitions remained separate until 2013 when finally amalgamated, promotion/relegation between the two divisions is dependant on ground facilities rather than playing ability.

Achievements by clubs in National Cup competitions

During its 108 year existence, the Hampshire League was done proud when represented by its member clubs in the national cup competitions, especially in its heyday as listed below, when clubs frequently progressed past the early qualifying rounds:

FA Cup

  • 1919/20 Thornycrofts (Woolston) reached 1st Round, v Burnley (home, drew 0-0, lost replay away 0–5)
  • 1932/33 Ryde Sports reached 1st Round, v Margate (away, lost 0–5)
  • 1936/37 Ryde Sports reached 1st Round, v Gillingham (home, lost 1–5)
  • 1945/46 Newport reached 2nd Round, v Aldershot (lost 0–12 on aggregate)
  • 1952/53 Newport reached 1st Round, v Swindon Town (away, lost 1–5)
  • 1953/54 Newport reached 1st Round, v Swindon Town (away, lost 1–2)
  • 1954/55 Newport reached 1st Round, v Hinckley Athletic (away, lost 3–4)
  • 1956/57 Newport reached 1st Round, v Watford (home, lost 0–6)
  • 1957/58 Newport reached 1st Round, v Hereford United (away, lost 0–3)
  • 1958/59 Newport reached 1st Round, v Shrewsbury Town (away, lost 3–4)
  • 1968/69 Waterlooville reached 1st Round, v Kettering Town (home, lost 1–2)
  • 1972/73 Alton Town reached 1st Round, v Newport County (away, lost 1–5)

FA Trophy

  • 1969/70 Thornycroft Athletic reached 1st Round, v Weymouth (away, lost 0-5)

FA Vase

  • 1976/77 Gosport Borough reached Quarter Finals, v Barton Rovers (home, 1-1 away, lost replay 1-3)
  • 1981/82 Sholing Sports reached 4th Round, v Shortwood United (away, lost 0-2)
  • 1985/86 Havant Town reached Quarter Finals, v Wisbech Town (home, lost 1-5)
  • 2002/03 Winchester City reached Quarter Finals, v Oadby Town (away, lost 0-1)

FA Amateur Cup

  • 1910/11 RMLI Gosport won the competition, 2-1 v South Bank in Final
  • 1929/30 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic reached the Final, lost 1-5 v Ilford
  • 1932/33 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic reached the Semi-Finals, lost 1-2 v Stockton

Historical position within English football league system

The following table shows the position of the various Hampshire leagues within the English football league system:

References

Basingstoke Town F.C.

Basingstoke Town Football Club is a football club based in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. The club are currently members of the Southern League Division One South and play at the Camrose. Their motto, 'Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum', means 'No stepping back'.

Blackfield

Blackfield is a collaborative music project by the English musician and founder of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, and Israeli rock singer Aviv Geffen. Together, five albums have been released under the moniker: Blackfield and Blackfield II as equal partners, and Welcome to my DNA and Blackfield IV with Geffen taking a leading role. Despite initially announcing his intention to leave the project in 2014, Wilson instead worked again as an equal partner on a fifth album, Blackfield V, which was released on 10 February 2017.

Season Champions
1896/97 Cowes
1897/98 Eastleigh Athletic
1898/99 Southampton Reserves
1899/00 Ryde Sports
1900/01 Royal Naval Barracks
1901/02 Southampton Reserves
1902/03 Portsmouth Reserves
1903/04 Portsmouth Reserves
1904/05 Royal Naval Barracks
1905/06 Portsmouth Reserves
1906/07 Salisbury
1907/08 Portsmouth Reserves
1908/09 Title was shared
1909/10 Regional Sections
1910/11 Southampton Reserves
1911/12 Portsmouth Reserves
1912/13 Woolston Works
1913/14 Bournemouth
1914-15
1919/20 Boscombe
1920/21 Bournemouth
1921/22 Portsmouth Reserves
1922/23 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic
1923/24 Gosport Athletic
1924/25 Andover
1925/26 Ryde Sports
1926/27 Cowes
1927/28 Cowes
1928/29 Regional Sections
1929/30 Newport
1930/31 Cowes
1931/32 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic
1932/33 Newport
1933/34 Andover
1934/35 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic
1935/36 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic
1936/37 Cowes
1937/38 Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic
1938/39 Newport
1939-45
1945/46 Gosport Borough
1946/47 RAOC Hilsea
1947/48 Newport
1948/49 Andover
1949/50 Newport
1950/51 Andover
1951/52 Portsmouth 'A'
1952/53 Newport
1953/54 Newport
1954/55 Salisbury City Reserves
1955/56 Cowes
1956/57 Newport
1957/58 Alton Town
1958/59 Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic 'A'
1959/60 Fareham Town
1960/61 Salisbury City Reserves
1961/62 Andover
1962/63 Fareham Town
1963/64 Fareham Town
1964/65 Fareham Town
1965/66 Fareham Town
1966/67 Fareham Town
1967/68 Basingstoke Town
1968/69 Thornycroft Athletic
1969/70 Basingstoke Town
1970/71 Basingstoke Town
1971/72 Pirelli General
1972/73 Fareham Town
1973/74 Sholing Sports
1974/75 Fareham Town
1975/76 Brockenhurst
1976/77 Gosport Borough
1977/78 Gosport Borough
1978/79 Newport
1979/80 Newport
1980/81 Newport
1981/82 AFC Totton
1982/83 Sholing Sports
1983/84 Sholing Sports
1984/85 AFC Totton
1985/86 East Cowes Victoria
1986/87 East Cowes Victoria
1987/88 B.A.T. Sports
1988/89 B.A.T. Sports
1989/90 Ryde Sports
1990/91 Locks Heath
1991/92 Colden Common
1992/93 Pirelli General
1993/94 Cowes Sports
1994/95 Ecchinswell
1995/96 Colden Common
1996/97 Moneyfields
1997/98 Blackfield & Langley
1998/99 Alton Town
1999/00 Amesbury Town
2000/01 Vosper Thornycroft
2001/02 Alton Town
2002/03 Winchester City
2003/04 Vosper Thornycroft
Season Winners
1991/92 Bishop's Waltham Town
1992/93 Cowes Sports
1993/94 Winchester City
1994/95 Ecchinswell
1995/96 Otterbourne
1996/97 AFC Newbury
1997/98 Poole Town
1998/99 Poole Town
1999/00 Hayling United
2000/01 Cancelled due to bad weather
2001/02 Liss Athletic
2002/03 Winchester City
2003/04 East Cowes Victoria
Letter Club
A AC Delco
AFC Aldermaston
Aldershot
Aldershot Services
Alresford Town
Alton Town
Amesbury Town
Andover
Andover New Street
Awbridge
B Bashley
Basing Rovers
AFC Basingstoke
Basingstoke Town
Bass (Alton) (formerly Courage & Co)
B.A.T Sports
Bishopstoke Social
Bishop's Waltham Town
Bitterne Nomads
Bitterne Sports
Blackfield & Langley
Botley
AFC Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth Gasworks Athletic
Bournemouth Tramways
Brading Town
Braishfield
Brockenhurst
Broughton
BTC Southampton (formerly Docks & Marine Sports)
C Christchurch
Clanfield
Colden Commmon
Compton
Cosham
Cove
Cowes Sports
D David Coleman AFC
Downton
Durley
E East Cowes Victoria
Eastleigh (formerly Swaythling Athletic)
Eastleigh Athletic
Eastleigh Spartans
East Lodge (formerly McMurdo, Drayton Park, St Marys & Co-op Sports)
Ecchinswell
Emsworth
Enham Alamien
Esso (Fawley) (formerly AGWI United)
F Fareham
Fareham Sacred Hearts
Fareham Town
Farnborough North End (formerly Covies)
Fleetlands
Fleet Spurs
Fleet Town
Folland Sports
Fordingbridge Turks
Ford Sports (formerly Briggs Social)
Four Marks
Freemantle
G Gosport Borough
Gosport United (merger of Athletic and Albion)
Guildford City
H Hadleigh
Hamble Club
Hamworthy Engineering
Harland & Wolff
Havant Town
Hayling United
Headley Athletic
Hedge End
Hilsea Club
Horndean
Hythe & Dibden
K King's Somborne
L Lansdowne
Laverstock & Ford
Liphook
Liss Athletic
Locks Heath
Longfleet St Marys
Ludgershall Sports
Lymington Town
M Malshanger
Mayflower
Micheldever
Midanbury
Moneyfields (formerly Portsmouth Civil Service)
Moneyfield Sports (formerly De-Havillands and Hawker-Siddely)
Mottisfont
Mullard Sports
N Netley Athletic Victoria
Netley Central Sports
Newbury Town
New Milton
Newport
North Hants Ironworks
Northwood St Johns
Nursling (formerly Nutfield United)
O Old Tauntonians
Ordnance Survey
Otterbourne
Overton United
P Paulsgrove
Pegasus
Pennington St Marks
Petersfield Town (formerly United)
Pirelli General
Pokesdown
Pokesdown Old Boys
Poole Town
AFC Portchester (formerly Wicor Mill)
Portals Athletic
Portsmouth
Portsmouth Royal Navy
Q Queens Keep
R RAF Andover
RAF Calshot
RAF Flowerdown
RAF Gosport
RAOC Hilsea
RAPC Worthy Down
Reading
Ringwood Town
Royal Marines Portsmouth (formerly RMLI Gosport)
Romsey Town
Royal Artillery Portsmouth (reformed for 1900-01 season after disbanding in 1899)
RS Basingstoke (formerly SR and DCA)
Ryde Sports
S Salisbury
Salisbury Corinthians
Salisbury City
Sandown
Shanklin
Sherborne St John
Sholing Sports (formerly Athletic)
Southampton
Southampton Civil Service
Southampton YMCA
Southern Electricity (formerly Portsea Island Gas Co and Portsmouth Electricity)
South Farnborough Athletic
Stockbridge
Swanmore
Sway
T Tadley
Thornycroft Athletic
AFC Totton
Totton Athletic
V Verwood Town
Vosper Thornycroft (formerly Thornycrofts (Woolston))
W Warsash
Waterlooville
Wellington Works
Wellworthy Athletic
Westbourne Athletic
West Wight
Whitchurch United
Whites Sports (merged with Cowes)
Winchester Castle
Winchester City
Woolston (formerly Bitterne Guild)
Y Yateley Green
Season Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10 Level 11 Level 12
1979–86 Alliance Premier League Southern League Premier Southern League South Hampshire 1 Hampshire 2 Hampshire 3
1986–91 Football Conference Southern League Premier Southern League South Wessex Hampshire 1 Hampshire 2
1991–99 Football Conference Southern League Premier Southern League South Wessex Hampshire 1 Hampshire 2 Hampshire 3
1999–2004 Football Conference Southern League Premier Southern League South Wessex Hampshire Premier Hampshire 1 Hampshire 2
2004–07 Football Conference Conference South Southern League Premier Southern League 1 S/W Wessex Premier Wessex 1 Wessex 2 Hampshire 2004
2007–13 Football Conference Conference South Southern League Premier Southern League 1 S/W Wessex Premier Wessex 1 Hampshire Premier Hampshire 2004
2013-15 Football Conference Conference South Southern League Premier Southern League 1 S/W Wessex Premier Wessex 1 Hampshire Premier Hampshire Prem Div 1
2015-18 National League National League South Southern League Premier Southern League 1 S/W Wessex Premier Wessex 1 Hampshire Premier Hampshire Prem Div 1
2018- National League National League South Southern League Premier S/W Southern League 1 S/W Wessex Premier Wessex 1 Hampshire Premier Hampshire Prem Div 1

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